“I want to work hard, whilst people tolerate me being successful.” I recently watched the Netflix documentary Miss Americana. And to be perfectly honest… I am woke (what ever woke means. Apparently awake has too many syllables for the under 30). If you haven’t heard about it, the film is an 86 minute glimpse into the life of pop-star Taylor Swift. Someone I’ve never followed, rarely listening to or really know a damn thing about. I grew up in the tragicly perfect Spice Girls and Britney Spears era. In all it’s impulse spray, lip smackers and Suprè glory. I therefore completely and intentionally missed the Swift, Cyrus, Grande viva-la-revolution. And thanks in part mum-life, and being in my now glorious 30s, I now only hear the remnants of pop music from afar. Mostly at activity centers or whilst browsing the bargain bin at K-mart. Unless Disney songs count?
I saw the add for this doco on just about every social media platform, and I was intrigued. A rare insight into one of the world’s biggest pop stars? Why not. As my tantruming toddler finally napped, and instead of folding washing, I sat on my biscuit covered couch and watched a glimpse into the fantastical world that is Taylor Swift. “I’m well awear this is not normal”, the star remarked to the interviewer as they drove away from hoards of screaming fans. Her life seems, from the outside looking in, a circus of flashing lights, beautiful boyfriends, glamorous gigs and perpetual parties. But if we believe anything this documentary has to tell us, we are so VERY wrong.
A scene cuts from a tall, confident Taylor, standing on stage in a glittering custom made costume, being adored by thousands of fans, to a frail, hunched over woman, in an oversized cat themed jumper, sitting alone on her lounge room floor. We are taken on a journey, peeling back the layers of this starlet, to reveal a very fragile, very vulnerable young woman, who still does not garner the respect she deserves.
No matter how many hit songs she writes, no matter how many albums she sells, no matter how many awards she wins, she still has to prove her worth. Not to herself. But to her colleuges. To her fans. To the media. To everyone else. I was shocked. Not because this is Taylor Swift. But because I saw this woman’s vulnerability and I could genuinely empathize with it. I saw her determination and I could feel it’s raw power. I saw her ambition to change the world for our little girls, and I bloody well wanted to stand up and applaude it. She should be unstoppable. But she’s not. Taylor, like many successful women of today, are used, belittled, or not taken seriously. We simply can’t be a good girl and run for president at the same time. So we are mocked, pinned against each other and put back into our place.
I watched Renee Zellweger’s Judy the other week. A feature film on the later life Julie Garland. I was saddened to see such a bright spark of a woman, smothered into nonexistence. By absent parents, misogynistic studio executives, heinousness management and money hungry husbands. All who used her talent for their own gain, and left a her with nothing more than a drug addition and a few catchy tunes. Her life should have been worth more than that. It’s tragic
But watching this documentary gave me a sense of hope. That this will not be the fate for our generations successfull and talented women. Women like Taylor are pushing back. Against conformity. Against misogyny. Against limitations set by generations before us. Setting new standards for our girls and young women. And although it seems to be a huge undertaking, both emotional and spiritual, I’m so glad that Taylor has stood up and said what we’ve all been wanting to say for a long time; “There is no such thing as a slut. There is no such thing as a bitch. There is no such thing as bossy, just as boss. We don’t want to be condemned for being multifaceted.”
Don’t tolerate me. Respect me. That’s the message I got from this documentary. Although Spice Up Your Life will always be an infinitely better song than Love Story, I’m officially calling myself a fan. Of her talent, her determination, her candor and her incredible ability to break glass ceilings. Don’t mistake her vulnerability for weakness. And Tay Tay… go get ’em girlfriend!
📷 Follow my journery at instagram.com/lexie.theordinarymum